You never think the day will come when you’ll be leaving your child home alone
From the very moment your baby is born, they are either snuggled in your arms, attached to your boob, wriggling on your hip or wedged in your bed! They are very rarely out of your sight and leaving your child home alone never enters your mind. As they get a bit older you go so far as to trap them on the same floor as you – with stairgates, and if you are anything like me, only realise that they don’t actually need them once they are out of nappies and actually walking and talking! Somehow you leave them up just in case – you can see them, you know they are safe, everything is fine.
Once you become a mum it becomes almost impossible for you to leave the house without your baby, unless you make a thorough plan way in advance. Who will babysit for you? Should you feed/bath/dress them all before the babysitter arrives or not? Do you put them to bed before the babysitter turns up and hope to God that the baby doesn’t wake up and notice that you have abandoned them? You work all of this out and are quite exhausted, then just as you make it to the door they start to scream the house down as you attempt to leave. On top of the exhaustion, you feel guilty and tearful yourself. Essentially when your children are very small they don’t want you to leave them. This, however, does not last forever.
Leaving your child home alone for the first time
There comes a time when your ‘baby’ would love for you to give them some space and starts to crave more independence. For me, the thought of leaving my eldest child at home alone went against everything that I had felt and done up to that point. After all, I wouldn’t be able to see her with my own eyes!
Before I left her home alone we went through what she would do in an emergency. I’m also lucky in that we have a lovely neighbour who we have a good relationship with and who would be at hand should she be needed. My daughter also has a mobile phone. All of this added together meant that both my daughter and I felt happy.
The first time I actually left her at home by herself felt very weird. Would she be ok? Would there be a fire? Would she cut herself with a sharp knife? Would the ceiling fall down? All of these nagging thoughts went through my mind and I was only gone for ten minutes! It turns out that she sat and watched T.V and that was all. When I got home she was in exactly the same place as she was when I left, although she did ring me to ask if she could have an apple, so I guess it was slightly weird for her too.
What are the positives of leaving your child home alone?
After leaving my daughter home alone the first time, we made it a regular thing but kept it to short periods of time in any one go. We then increased the length of time as she (but mostly me) got used to it. Although I felt the whole process slightly alarming, my daughter has really benefitted from knowing that she doesn’t always need to depend on me and her dad, that she is capable of thinking for herself. Most importantly she knows that we trust her. As she changes from being a child to a young adult I hope as parents we can continue to give her the best opportunities in order for her to become a confident and independent adult. However, right now the thought of my daughter learning to drive and going clubbing scares me half to death but then again removing the stairgates once gave me the same feeling!